Why won't social conservative bigwigs back the Huck? Erick Erickson suggests it's because they're political realists who know that Huckabee's unacceptable to the fiscal cons, and thus would actually fracture the Right's coalition more than Rudy would. Ambinder agrees, but also speculates that the "SoCon establishment in Washington fears Huckabee because Huckabee can empower social conservatives DIRECTLY, without the mediating influence, or dollars, of the SoCon establishment." Both these theories are plausible; I'd only add that every would-be endorser wants to back a winner, and Huckabee still has a much slimmer chance of taking the GOP nomination than Romney and Thompson, the other plausible recipients of a SoCon Establishment blessing. (Likewise, electability - or the lack thereof - is one of the many reasons why Brownback probably won't endorse Huckabee.)
In any case, it's hard not to be impressed with the political feat that Huckabee pulled off this weekend - spiking, at least temporarily, the SoCon leadership's endorsement of Romney by sheer force of rhetoric. Or so Erickson says:
I'm told that people in the room tabulating the votes were stunned by Huckabee's showing. Stunned, for some of them, is an understatement. It seems clear to me that this was an opportunity for the leaders of the social conservative movement to sigh, shrug, and embrace Romney. They intended to.
They gave Romney a platform by himself on Friday night. They played heroic anthems for his entry and departure. He had the night all to himself. And he did well. Then Huckabee showed up the next day, sharing the same time cluster as Rudy. And Huckabee, with a speech he wrote himself, was magnificent.
Now, you can call me partisan or biased or whatever you want, but all I'm doing here is reporting. The leaders of the social conservative movement who were present, the Arlington Group members you hear so much about, were ready and willing to get on board Romney's campaign on Saturday morning. Then Huckabee spoke. Then the straw vote was tabulated. Then they realized that were they to do so, it would put them completely out of step with their members.
"With a speech he wrote himself." Hard not to like the guy ...
Update: See also Amy Sullivan's take.
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